Are you are renting? Or maybe you just don’t feel comfortable using power tools? No worries! There are lots of ways to maximize storage without installing expensive custom closet organizers. These 7 tips will help add functionality and organization to your closet while making it a breeze to get out the door in the morning.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualified purchases.
With small 1960s closets, we are always looking for ways to maximize our storage space and get the most out of our small footprint. This means that nearly all of our closets are carefully planned out and customized to fit our storage needs.
However, we haven’t installed custom closets or built our own shelving units. Far from it! My husband and I are not the handiest people and consider hanging curtains one of our most challenging DIYs.
Instead, I like to use a carefully planned mix of freestanding and flexible storage pieces that help us store more in less. Because these storage pieces aren’t built-in, they are easy to move and switch up as storage needs change.
Keep reading for my 7 best tips and favorite products for maximizing and organizing your closet.
Tip #1 – Take everything out & purge!
The first step is to take everything out. And I mean everything! You need to see what you have before you can even think about organizing or finding storage solutions.
The way I like to do it is to grab everything from your closet and lay it out on your bed. Then you can start putting things in piles – shirts, jackets, pants, sweaters, blouses, dresses, etc. Now you can see exactly how many of each item you have. Go through each pile and remove items that are worn out, stretched out, no longer fit, or just aren’t your favorite.
BONUS POINTS – Try everything on. It’s hands down the best way to figure out what you still like and what you don’t. If you need a shortcut, set aside the items you wear all the time and just try on the items you are unusure about or haven’t worn in a while.
It’s amazing how much information you get from trying something on. You are instantly confronted with how an item fits and feels and it’s much easier to let something go when you realize that you don’t feel great when you put it on.
Once you’ve reduced your items down to just the things you love, it’s time to figure out a way to store them. Consider how many of each item you have and designate a place to store them.
I like to space plan by drawing out the closet on paper and trying different storage options. This helps me figure out the best way to use all the available space in my closet, including the floor and the shelf.
Tip #2 – Look down!
The floor space in your closet is incredibly valuable and should not be a place where things are shoved, like piles of shoes, garbage sacks full of clothes for donation, or extra bags.
Depending on your storage needs, I like to fill the space with something that will give me added storage, like a cube organizer, a shoe cubby, or a dresser.
If you have a lot of shoes, I really like the shoe cubbies from Closetmaid. They come in a few different sizes and you can fit quite a few pairs (even more if you double up thinner shoes in one cubby).
Tip #3 – Look up!
Now, look at the top shelf. Are you using this space effectively? While it is slightly less convenient to reach up for items, this shelf is perfect for stacks of jeans, sweaters, or bins of seasonal items. Freestanding storage cubes or shelves can help break up this towering expanse of space and make the whole closet more functional.
In my closet, I needed a way to store sweaters and off-season clothing. I measured the space and then searched Amazon for a shelf unit that would fill the space between the shelf and the ceiling. This one fits a plastic storage basket and keeps the sweaters neatly stacked in the other.
Every closet is a different size, so make sure to measure the space you have and look for solutions that will fit.
I even had a bit of room left to the side where I was able to stack a few clear shoe bins to store high heels (which let’s face it, aren’t getting the most use these days.) This freed up slots in my shoe cubby for everyday shoes that I wear more frequently.
Tip #4 – Consider hanging baskets
Do you have any empty areas in your closet? Even if you only have a couple of inches, you can hang a small basket or tray using Command Hooks. These small but mighty baskets can be the perfect place to store all the little items (like sunglasses, belts, and scarves) that often get lost in a closet.
If you have space for a slightly larger basket, you could store workout gear or T-shirts. The flexibility of the command strips means that you can remove these baskets anytime you need to change up your space.
I found my grey plastic bins at Dollar Tree, but similar wire baskets made of metal can be found on Amazon.
Tip #5 – Invest in matching hangers
If you can only afford one upgrade to your closet, make it matching hangers. This one simple change will elevate the look and feel of your entire space, no matter the size. I like slim velvet hangers for the space savings in my small closet, but any matching type will do.
Not only do they help your clothes hang together better, they reduce visual clutter and make the entire space look finished.
I like to space my hangers 1-2 fingers width apart. This seems like a minor change but it actually makes a huge difference in the way your clothes hang. It leaves a bit of space so your clothes can breathe, prevent wrinkles, and helps you “see” all your items.
Tip #6 – Organize your hanging items by type or color
There are two ways I like to organize hanging items: 1) by color 2) by type. It’s 100% personal preference and should be based on how you think about your clothes and how you get dressed in the morning.
If you like to think about color when you get dressed, consider placing all similar tones together. Regardless of the shape, you can create a color gradient that is visually pleasing, like ROYGBIV order or in my case, black-grey-white.
If you like to put together your outfits based on individual pieces or formulas, you might prefer grouping by type. Placing like items together (t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, sweaters, jackets, and pants) will make it easy to find just what you need in any weather.
Tip #7 – Hooks are your friend
My last tip is to use hooks anywhere you have space to hang things. If you don’t feel like drilling a hole, Command hooks make it simple and quick to hang (and remove!) They are perfect for the sides of your closet or the back of the door and can be used to hang anything from hats to purses to jewelry or scarves. It’s the perfect way to use that vertical space that may otherwise go unused.
Finally, remember that small closets will always be a challenge. You can’t rely on extra space to store items “just in case”. But with a bit of creativity and organization, your closet can become a space to showcase your favorite items and make you feel excited every time you open the closet door.
If you need further proof that small closets can be functional and beautiful, here’s a 30-second video of my closet organization in action.